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Black Lives Matter

These days when churches are broadcasting their services on the internet and you can pretty much join any church in the world for worship.

Thank you for joining us today.  Or is it tomorrow already for you?  That’s something else about the new normal, isn’t it?  You can join a service at a time that suits you.

Some people in our congregation have been sneaking off and watching services taking place in other churches.  People are being more and more open with me about services they have joined at other churches.  And there are people who have snuck away from their normal church to join us on Facebook or You Tube.  You are all welcome! 

Actually, I think this is a really good thing.  It must surely enrich our faith to worship with churches that we don’t normally worship with.

The church I have been sneaking away to worship with is called Allen Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church in Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States. 

I worshipped with them physically when I was in the States in early March and sometimes I join them on Facebook on a Sunday afternoon when it is still Sunday morning in Atlanta.

If you are, like me, a fan of the hymn The Day Thou Gavest Lord has ended, you might recall the verse which goes

The sun that bids us rest is waking
Our brethren 'neath the western sky
And hour by hour fresh lips are making
Thy wonderous doings heard on high

Well it’s a bit like that to watch people praising God beneath the western sky as our day draws to its close.

Last Sunday the text the minister of Allen Temple chose was the text I chose for our Epistle this morning, which we also read a few weeks ago.

1 Peter 2. The one that ends in the translation we have just used Honour all men. Love the brotherhood.  Fear God.  Honour the King.

I recognised the reading once it was announced and I sat watching the screen on my laptop wondering how on earth is a preacher in the Allen Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church in Atlanta Georgia going to explain this text to her congregation.

How was she going to explain this text when:

  • Police were responding to peaceful protestors with violence on the streets of Atlanta the previous evening.
  • People are losing their lives in her country just for being black.
  • The world is still reeling in shock at the modern-day lynching that took place in Minneapolis ten days previously.
  • The King of America (they call him the President) but he is the ruler that they are called to honour encourages the violence of the police with talk of dominating the streets.
  • When the King of America has his police and soldiers clear the people and their priests from his path so he can stand in front of a church building and pretend to be a follower of Christ.

How was she going to explain this text?

Well, she began by listing all these things that are happening.  She certainly wasn’t pretending that they weren’t happening.

And she acknowledged the question that people are asking of why are these things still with us?  Why are we still protesting this stuff?  Did the civil rights movement in the 1960’s not achieve anything?  And you have to remember that Atlanta is justly proud of the role it played in the Civil Rights Movement.

And then she went on to say, and I won’t say it as well as she did, she went on to say that her congregation should protest peacefully, loving the brotherhood, honouring all people (including people with whom they disagreed), remembering always that the people who were oppressing them would be forgiven of their sins by the God they feared, just as they themselves knew that because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the rugged cross they were forgiven, and that also meant, honouring the King (the one they call the President).

And they should do this because it was the only way and they should keep the faith that this was the way to bring an end to the oppression they experienced, something they so desperately needed, because, in the end the example of their faith would win the victory.

And I wanted to share this example of Christian faith with you so that you would know what our brethren were enduring beneath western skies and that beneath those western skies they were keeping the faith, honouring all people and praying for their enemies.

And I wonder what our response might be to that?

Jesus told old Nicodemus that faith in him would transform his followers so that they would in effect be born again and the only way to enter into the Kingdom of God was to be born again, be completely transformed.

To follow the example of Christ and be the kind of person that builds the Kingdom of God, by honouring all people, by praying for your enemies knowing that they were forgiven by God; this is transformational.  Doing this; really doing this; transforms you; makes you do different things; makes you different people; makes you a new person; you are born again.

African Americans are a minority in the United States.  Which is why it is so important that what seems to be happening there, and here, is a new readiness with which many young people especially who are not African American, who are not black, are willing to say; Black Lives Matter and are willing to say that in public.

We may be witnessing a transformation here. 

We may be witnessing a new birth.

Do we want to be part of that?  If we do, we need to be willing to say Black Lives Matter.  And willing to say it in public.

Which is why, this coming Sunday, I will be in Alderley Edge Park, doing just that.

But for now, standing shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters all over the world, let us declare our faith in the God we worship and in whose name we honour all people.

 

 


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Page last updated: 11th June 2020 11:09 AM